What will you be asked at your interview?
All interviews in life serve as an opportunity for both parties involved to learn more about each other. Graduate program interviews give prospective students an opportunity to meet faculty, learn more about their program of interest, and get a feel for the campus and local community. The hope is that a prospective student will leave an interview feeling that they like the faculty and the company of other students they met, would benefit from attending this academic program, are comfortable in the campus and local community, and would be excited to be offered a place in the program.
On the flip side, the faculty reviewers have the opportunity to put a face to the name they read about on paper, watch how they interact with others and observe their level of preparation for the interview. The hope is that a faculty member will leave an interview feeling like a student has a lot to offer the institution, that the student would be a valuable member of the campus community and eventually go on to be successful in their field of study after completing the graduate program.
SUNY Plattsburgh has a number of graduate programs that require admission interviews, including the counseling programs (Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Student Affairs & Higher Education), teacher education programs (most M.S.Ed. and all M.S.T.), Speech-Language Pathology, School Psychology, and others.
Interviews for summer and fall admission to programs at Plattsburgh typically occur on campus in late February or early March. Some programs invite all applicants to interview, while others review all applications first then selectively invite only certain applicants to attend an interview. Occasionally, exceptions are made to allow international candidates or those requiring distant travel to interview by phone or video-chat.
Many people get understandably anxious about interviews. Here are some of my best tips to those of you who are preparing for an upcoming admission interview:
Prepare and Research – Learn everything you can about the program you are applying for, the skills needed in the job market, and who you may be interviewing with. This research will show the interviewers that you are serious about being accepted into the program. You should also be ready with polished, concise answers to very commonly asked interview questions (like “tell me about yourself”). You’re there to highlight your skills, so be sure to review talking points in advance to remind yourself of all the great things you have accomplished and reasons you’re capable of succeeding in grad school.
Basic Big Day Preparation – Get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast before your interview. These should be no brainers! It’s also a good idea to bring a copy of your resume and any pertinent materials. Aim to arrive about 10-15 minutes early. Keep in mind that many professionals out there view an early arrival as “on time,” and showing up exactly at the starting time is considered as late.
Dress Professionally – How you dress is one of the first things an interviewer sees. Did you roll out of bed and put jeans on like it’s a regular day, or take the time to prepare a professional outfit? It doesn’t have to look perfect or be expensive, it just has to show that you cared enough to try. Appropriate interview attire typically includes dress pants, skirts, or dresses, with suit coats or blazers. Close-toed dress shoes should be worn with low or no heel. Try to plan your outfit well in advance to avoid last minute stress.
Have Questions Ready – Frequently, interviewees are given the opportunity to ask questions in their interviews. This is an excellent chance to show your interest in the program, as well as get answers to any questions you may have. Click here and scroll down to the bottom of this list to see questions to consider asking an interviewer (PDF).
Respectfulness and Positivity – Never speak negatively about anyone or another institution during your interview, it reflects poorly on you. Be respectful and express interest in everyone you meet. Faculty reviewers take note of your interactions as much as they do your one-on-one responses.
Try to Relax and be Confident – Your hard work and abilities got you to this point. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to let your true personality shine through.
We wish you the best of luck at your interview!
-Betsy Kane, Director of Graduate Admissions
Check out these links for even more information:
Graduate Admissions: Tips for a Great Interview from Peterson’s
How to Ace Your Graduate School Interview by College Explorer
What to Wear for a Graduate School Interview by GradSchools.com
Sample Questions For Graduate School Admissions Interview by Tara Kuther, PhD
Ways to Ensure a Successful Video Interview by GradSchools.com
Current SUNY Plattsburgh Graduate Students Share Their Experiences
Maureen Pellerin is currently enrolled in the Student Affairs and Higher Education program. Recalling her on-campus interview experience, she says:
“I remember being extremely nervous going into the interview day, but meeting amazing professors and potential classmates put me immediately at ease. The interview day was ultimately what sealed the deal for me to choose SUNY Plattsburgh for graduate study because everyone was extremely welcoming, and I felt comfortable with both my classmates and professors. My advice for new applicants is to be yourself and don’t get caught up in the nerves because everyone just wants to get to know you and welcome you to our campus community!”
Chelsey Sengillo is currently enrolled in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. She had this to say about her phone interview:
“Due to distance I was unable to attend the interviewing day at Plattsburgh, however the school and Clinical Mental Health Counseling program was very accommodating. I was allowed the alternative of having a phone interview with one of the professors of the program. I remember being anxious about what they were going to ask me and if I was going to give the “correct” responses. What I found out was that I had nothing to be nervous about! My advice to students would be to be themselves, you made it this far in the application process and the interview is just an additional step for the school/program to get to know YOU. So have fun, be honest, and most importantly be yourself…let your personality shine!”